Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Reading a Book, or at Least Trying

It was a quiet afternoon on the farm. Martha settled onto the back porch settee with a book in her hand. The sun shined, the breeze was fresh, and there were no children to interrupt her reading...

Up onto the porch hopped one little black and white hen. She cocked her head curiously and gazed at Martha with one eye.

"Are you trying to get me in trouble?" Martha asked. But the chicken just stared silently back.

Martha made an attempt to ignore her feathered friend. She looked back at her book and hoped the silly bird would go back to scratching in the garden, but rather than disappear the little chicken invited her friends to story time. They stood a safe distance away, looked at Martha, cocked their heads to one side, and stared.

Martha looked back out of the corner of her eye without moving her head. The porch was now crowded with chickens. Chickens alone are not necessarily bad, but chickens have bad hygiene and often forget to poop only in the grass or garden... Martha put her book down, got up, and shooed the chickens off the porch.

The brooding birds ran off into the grass. Martha settled back in her seat but reading was not in her future. As soon as her eyes were focused on her book, the bad, bad, biddies returned,

Turns out they were hungry and were hoping for a handout of some kind. I do suppose that making eggs takes quite a bit of energy. (It looks like I'm going to be looking up some recipes for quiche...)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Baby Shower in the Park.

It was a baby shower in the park. We gathered yesterday and I learned firsthand that 1 pm in Mexican time means 2 pm, and there is no such thing as late. One sweet lady showed up with a gift 3-4 hours into the party and no one batted an eye.

There was lots of food. There were a few games. (We all took a guess at how big around the mommy to be was and ripped off a strip of crepe ribbon to show our guess. Hannah's sister in law cheated a little bit by hugging her middle, but nobody seemed to mind... ) There was conversation, most of it in Spanish :0), and some relaxation. There was swimming when a few boys decided to take off their shoes and jump in the lake. It was the perfect day for it.

And there were presents, lots of presents. Good thing for gift bags, and good thing for two parents to be to open them! Sergio and Hannah's baby is going to be very well dressed!

I finished one of my woodland animal paintings just before wrapping him up for the shower. It's been crazy busy and I got a late start on painting because my name is really Last-Minute-Martha. He turned out cute, I think, and will be kept company by a bear, a raccoon, and possibly a skunk, though the last animal is still up for debate.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Chimney Bluffs State Park

Yesterday's trip to the honeybee farm was followed by a walk along the beach at Chimney Bluffs State Park. The bluffs are no longer the magnificent spectacle of the past, but it is a wonderful place to visit just the same.

Deborah and I made our way down to the rock beach and along the shore, picking up rocks, and looking for treasure. A beachcomber before us had left several piles of rocks along the water's edge. Deb found her customary heart shaped beach stone and added it to the tower.

I am thankful to God for the gift of this friend, our shared love of photography and books, and the encouragement she has been to me. He knows just what we need and when. And He is good.

Lake Bluff Honey Bee Farm (Bee Barns!)

My friend Deborah and I love to take our cameras out for a ride. Yesterday afternoon we went to visit the bees at Lake Bluff Honey Bee Farm

I'll be truthful and say that massive amounts of bees do scare me just a little bit... I did not panic when one landed on top of my head... but I wanted to. Instead, I stifled a scream and the urge to jump frantically up and down, brushed it gently away, and prayed that it was really gone. (You know how just the thought of lice makes one itchy? The whole time I was sure a bee was sitting on top of my head. I could feel it! But there was really nothing there.)

Out in the yard one of the colonies was acting a bit strange, perhaps getting ready to swarm. Although I kept my distance, it did make a spectacular photo opportunity. The back lighting from the sun helped too.

In February or March of this past year The Cabinet Maker and I went to a bee keeper's meeting with the farm's owners. We briefly considered getting both honey bees and chickens, but bees come with a hefty setup and I don't think a broom would be much protection if they decided to attack... Besides, collecting eggs doesn't require a suit, smoke, or special equipment, even if honey is sweeter.

Jose asked if we wanted to see the Honey Room inside his barn. We were quite eager to see how the process worked until we saw the doorway full of bees... Jose let a few fly out, then stood in the doorway and said, "Follow me. I'll protect you." (Ha ha! Right!) So we stepped through a curtain of bees and into a barn full of them. And we survived! (I'm spouting courage all over the place and I haven't even been to the dentist yet!!!)

And, then there was the little white dog who decided I could pick her up (without her backing away). She even gave me a few licks on the neck and a snuggle before I put her down again. I think she weighs twice as much as she did when she left us in November, but I think she's twice as happy living on the honey bee farm too. She really wasn't sure what to think of The Naughties last year. Poor Sofie.

I decided to be creative, stretch the limits again, and link my Bee Barns to Tom's Barn Collective.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A New Look at Bits and Pieces

Because it sounds so much more negative than I meant it to. Every life comes with bumps and challenges. It's how one looks at them that makes the difference. I'm still smiling and even finding some of it mildly entertaining, though you may not have been able to tell by yesterday's post. Please forgive me. I'm learning as I go.

* Grateful for a chiropractor friend who is helping me with the aches and pains that had settled into my neck and back. I'm feeling put together again and that is wonderful!

* Our almost sixteen year old cat wandered off and crossed the Rainbow Bridge sometime this past weekend. She was much loved and I'll miss her, but I'm glad her suffering is over.

* I spent this Tuesday at the hospital with my friend from the nursing home. She was quiet for much of the day, but kept us entertained by singing made up songs in the evening. I found out the gift shop at Highland Hospital has some pretty awesome oatmeal cookies.

* I mustered up some courage the other day and made an appointment with the dentist here in town. I discovered I have an intense dentophobia, even though I really do like the dentist himself. I'm trying to look at it as an exercise in courage.

* The rooster remains for now. He is a good protector, but is a bit confused as to who actually presents a danger. Small boys and middle aged grandmothers are not a danger to either his his "manhood" or his flock. I'm collecting up some delicious recipes like Coq au Vin for when the moment arrives. Everyone likes chicken.

* The hens are laying eggs every day now. We have a nice little collection and this morning The Trio was able to gather a few to take home too. Each child got two eggs. How cool is that?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Bits and Pieces

* I've been to the chiropractor twice in the past week. Had a four day headache last week and one of my Facebook friends' comment was "Ya know..." I finally gave in and made an appointment with him and found someone who doesn't leave me hanging in the waiting room for 45 minutes. Love that, and the fact that he is an old friend is a plus too. I go back again tomorrow.

* Little Cat has not been seen for the past few days... I fear she will not return.

* Spent 8 hours at the hospital yesterday, but not because I was ill or hurt. My friend from the nursing home is there recuperating from a recent surgery. (And I thought sitting in the nursing home was hard. That hospital chair is probably why my neck and back are hurting again today...)

* Yesterday I made an appointment with the dentist and decided this is definitely my phobia. I am petrified. I kid you not, I don't remember the last time I was there, but know the secretary called me to fill in a cancellation the last few times I did go. You can pray for me. My appointment isn't until mid-September and already want to cry. I love the dentist himself, just hate the equipment he has.

* Bubba (the rooster) is still with us. For now. He did chase my six year old grandson down to the blueberry patch on Saturday, but I didn't find that out until hours later. Simon was grinning when he told me. "I didn't hear you screaming." I replied. He just kept grinning and said, "I didn't scream, I just ran." And to confirm his story The Grandfather told me that he had found the rooster down in the blueberry patch just prior to shutting him in the coop for the afternoon. Ugh.

* On a positive note, we are collecting eggs now, and eating them too. There are typically about 6-8 small brown eggs arriving daily. How cool is that? Now if I could just tell which one of them is the ceramic one...

Monday, August 22, 2016

Cognitive Impairment

I met up with my second grade teacher today. I wouldn't have recognized her in a million years. We could have passed each other on the street and I'd have never known. We are complete strangers drawn together by a space of 10 months over 44 years ago. Today we sat and talked, looked at my old class picture, and remembered former students and classmates. Some of them we remembered multiple times.

Cognitive impairment is stealing her mind and memory. "It is what it is," she says, and she smiles. She has learned to be thankful for the day, to live in the moment, and to laugh. Old memories come easier than new ones and she both asked for and gave the same information multiple times. In spite of not always remembering how I knew her or why I'd looked her up, we had a wonderful visit.

We ate a late lunch in a local diner. The waitress seated us and we visited for a while before the man from an adjacent booth slipped into the seat beside her. "I'm going to risk being rude," he said. He turned out to be a fellow teacher from the old elementary school I'd attended so long ago. I asked him his name and found him to be the only grade 4-6 teacher whose name I would have recognized. I'd gone to a different elementary school after third grade, but my oldest brother had been in his class and I'd heard all kinds of stories as a child. Too bad I didn't recall any of them today. (Or maybe it was a good thing...)

After our lunch I took my new old friend back to her house. As I headed for my own home, I found myself feeling slightly teary. Although I'd had an inkling of her memory impairment from last week's phone conversation, I'd hoped to find her mind more intact. Thankfully, as much as I hate it, God has prepared my heart and mind to love and accept those who struggle with cognitive impairment. What had been so difficult to face in my mom, is now easier to accept in others. I must be getting better at it because this "new friend" looked me in the eye, smiled, and said, "I like you. If you're not too busy and would like someone to talk to, you can come and visit me again anytime."

I didn't take any pictures, so The Naughties are here for your viewing pleasure. :0)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Corncob Babydoll

Summertime candy. She loves it!

The Barn Collective

Barns and sunflowers. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sunny Day, Sweepin' the Clouds Away

I woke up with a headache yesterday morning. Day four of misery... potentially. Rather than wallow in pain, I opted to send my chiropractor friend a message. I went to see him directly after my hair appointment, and after a bit of snapping, popping, and cracking was on my way to feeling better. I have a few sore muscles today, but the throbbing in my head and the pain down my neck and back have greatly subsided.

Yesterday was busy. Hair appointment. Chiropractor, visit with Hannah, outing with Deborah... We took a drive to Pittsford, NY (Clover Rd just past Calkins) to find the field of sunflowers. We were not disappointed and Deb found a little piece of heaven amidst the bees and blooms.

It was a bright and sunny afternoon. We both did a little melting out there, but the results were worth the effort. (Must remember ice water next time...) On our way home we stopped at the wonderful Pittsford Wegmans for a bit of dinner.

And later just before it got dark, the Cabinet Maker was happy to take me out to Yia Yia's to celebrate National Soft Serve Ice Cream Day.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Childhood Memories

Last week's connection with my childhood friends left me wishing once again to connect with the 2nd grade teacher that two of us shared. She must be in her 70's by now and if I wait any longer...

On Monday morning I left a query as to the whereabouts of my teacher on my hometown's Facebook page and was pleased to find a reply not too much later. One person tagged another and I soon had both a married name and an address. On Tuesday morning I dropped a card in the mail. This afternoon I received a phone call.

There are only a handful of teachers I would actively seek out and this one is special among those. It's been 44 years since I left her classroom, but she has stayed with me all those years. She was wonderful and special to start with, but one simple act of kindness on her part carried me through some difficult days.

Trauma, in one way or another, reaches into the life of every child, and it arrives in many forms. My second grade trauma arrived in June of 1972 when the mother of a classmate died quite suddenly. She was also a family friend and neighbor. I knew what happened well before I arrived at school that morning... The trauma had already begun to set in.

I sat at my desk surrounded by the chatter of fellow students. I imagine myself silent, staring. Perhaps there were signs of trauma already in my expression. The door to the classroom opened and the Principal entered. He walked across the front of the room, put his hand up to the side of his mouth, and whispered in the teacher's ear. I watched my teacher's eyes close, her mouth drop open, and her face turn red. She threw her hands up over her face and ran from the room. And I knew why. The classroom fell silent, but I was the only child in a class of 28 who knew why our teacher had just run from the room in tears.

The principal stayed with us and read a story, or something I can't recall, while my mind spun and somewhere in another place in the building my teacher attempted to collect and compose herself before returning to the classroom. I don't know how long it was before she returned, but not long after her return she took me out into the hall and talked gently to me. All I can recall these years later was her saying something about us "not always understanding why things like this happen." She was tender and kind and spoke only words of encouragement. It was the only bit of counseling I would ever receive. The school year ended a week or two later. She never could have known how much I already knew about the event, or how much her actions would mean to me even all these years later.

On Monday I will meet my second grade teacher again. I am looking forward to a long hug, some good conversation, and perhaps a few tears as well.

Kindergarten Class

The inner child keeps seeping out...

The Cabinet Maker has been busy in the kitchen again. A little bit of painting, some finish trim on the cabinets, and a few more lights... He'd started to paint the cabinet doors to the one original cabinet that we hadn't pulled out when I had an idea. What if we painted those two door with chalkboard paint? We even had some on hand from an earlier project. Now all we need is a couple of latches and some door latches.

It turned out kind of cool, I think, and last night I sat down and drew a few animals to spruce it up for the granddarling's arrival this morning. Didn't I tell you I should have been a kindergarten teacher?

The kitchen has been fun so far and it's all coming together beautifully.

Monday, August 15, 2016

And There You Have It

Tada! I finished it. Finally.

The Man helped me put some hinges on the door and I painted a window too. I also changed the over the door decorations. The pretty party lights I strung earlier this summer weren't holding up well, so now I have a string of bells instead. The Happy Gnome is smiling. At least I'm pretty sure he is. Haven't actually seen him.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

... and Martha Served

And there they made Him a supper, and Martha served...
John 12:2

It's been over seven years since my first series on Martha... The subject has been recently resurrected.

It was in Martha's heart to serve, but she, like most women, felt the need to not only serve, but to impress the guests as well. The house probably had to be spotless, the bed comfortable, the bathroom fresh smelling, and the meal? Extravagant. No hot dogs and store bought potato salad for her guests!

I'm so much like her, the Biblical Martha, and her concern over too many things. I've often longed for the return of the carefree days of childhood. Not the childhood itself, per say, I think I've still got a hold on that (ha ha!), but the carefree-ness that come with NOT being worried and/or troubled about many things.

Somewhere along the way Martha learned some valuable lessons. The story in John 10, the one about her and her sister, includes Jesus' gentle rebuke/words of encouragement. A book in my collections says, "...from Martha's familiarity with Jesus, we conclude that she knew Him well."  She knew Him well enough to take her worldly cares to Him, and He loved her enough to address her shortcomings and point her back in the right direction. Two chapters later she is serving once again, yet she utters no complaint. I have to wonder if there was a little dust on the furniture and perhaps a few cobwebs in the corner this time. I'm pretty sure the meal was simpler and served with a lot more smiles.

As for me, I'm still working on it, and I think I'm making progress. At least I hope so. I haven't dusted in months. (Okay, maybe I have... maybe.)

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Slew of Slyness

I stayed home today and played. I played with paper, scissors, and glue. And googly eyes. I must admit, I did copy (they were cookies), but I'm still very pleased with the result.

My little girl is expecting her first baby in eleven weeks. She has chosen a woodland animal theme with a focus on the fox. She has fox blankets, clothes, stuffed animals... It's all so very fun, really it is.

I'm planning on finding a few other forest creatures. Maybe a raccoon, a bear, or a porcupine... and doing a bit of painting. I have some nice pieces of old pallets to recycle.

You know, I like these foxes so much. I really should have been a kindergarten teacher...

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Summer Supper

It was hot today. Last night we went to Yia Yia's for an ice cream cone dinner, but tonight we stayed home and made something healthier. I made a salad, and the Cabinet Maker cooked up some fish and garlic bread. Topped it off with an ice cold cider. Perfect.

Childhood Friends...

Things get lost on Facebook and don't turn up again for at least another year, so I'm saving this conversation with my childhood friends where it is a little easier to find.

I scrolled down through my friends today and found the one who, outside of family and relatives, has been a part of my life for the longest. Beth, you were one of my very first friends. From you pulling the tassel on my fuzzy winter hat (my mom's story) to sharing the nursery in the old Webster Grange Hall, from playing hide and seek in the weeds next to your house to putting all of your toys down the laundry chute, going to kindergarten together and writing letters after you moved to Massachusetts. First friends always hold a special place in our hearts and that is why I have a daughter named Beth. 
Alibaba Johnson, you are next. From riding tricycles to making mud pies and picking flowers for your mummy, four square and hide and go seek, from kindergarten to high school. I still miss the way you always made me laugh and you will always be loved.

Beth  Oh, I do remember! And I am honored that you do as well!
Martha  Oh yeah, and the Fisher Price people too.
Beth  I still keep Panhead on my desk at school.  My fifth graders have heard all the stories!

Alibaba- Hey Martha,

Martha Teal Hey. 

Alibaba- Lol...okay, let me try this again. I hit return and it sent the message which clearly shows how Facebook friendly I am! I actually almost never go on here but for some reason I did today and your post made me laugh. Yes we made the very best mud pies in all of the land, for sure. I wanted to thank you ( a little late) for always letting me switch tricycles with you even tho you knew yours was much better...very sweet. You are in my fondest memories growing up . I used to love how your Mum would flag us over on the stormy mornings to wait for the bus. The smell and warmth of the wood stove combined with fresh baked chocolate chip cookies and homemade hot chocolate was the best start to any day...I miss that potato chip tin filled with cookies almost as much as I miss sprinting to the bus with trying not to crush the extra one your Mum let get away with the one she let me I could go on and on about our adventures , of which there are too many to mention. I hope you are doing great and still smiling. My best to You, Chip ( ok Jim...never could get used to that) and the rest of the family!

Martha-  Yes, the tricycles.  I never minded sharing. And apple pies. Don't forget the apple pies, the snowball fights, and King of the Mountain. Maybe one day I'll show up with a batch of those chocolate chip cookies. You never know, it could happen.

Alibaba- Oh no way, I don't forget the apple or the pumpkin pies but thanks to You and your Mother, I'm now a chocoholic . I've gone through literally a hundred recipes trying to recreate those How could I ever forget the snowball fights, the forts, sledding down your driveway, hide n go seek with you and guys had the coolest house ever....I think that's why I love log cabins and gardening. Oh and let's not forget Bible school in your backyard....such good times. To this day I've never found a four leaf clover and recently it dawned on me that being as your Dad had such the green thumb, I think he gave you some four leaf clover seeds and you pretended to find the ones you planted!! Eureka!! That's it!! Hope to see you next visit. Have an awesome sunny day!

Martha-l Cookies always turned out better in Mom's kitchen. Musta been some kind of magic there. I'm working on it in my own. When I get it right I'll bring you a batch.

The photograph is our kindergarten class. We're all in it, Beth, Alibaba, and me. I'm the white haired girl in the front row with an anchor on my dress, Beth is the blond behind me and to my right, and Alibaba, my mud pie making friend, is second in the top row. Oh, the memories!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Yesterday I went to work. When I arrived, G was at the hairdresser. She had a quiet, sleepy morning and ate a small lunch. I talked briefly with another companion at our table. We left the dining room for G's room at about 1 o'clock. I put some music on the CD player. At ten minutes til two G was taken to the toilet and put into bed for a rest. While she rested I ate my lunch, did a little reading, checked my Facebook, took a quiz, made some online jigsaw puzzles, and sent some messages to my daughter. At 4:45 pm the aides came, took G to the bathroom, and put her in the wheelchair. We went to supper. I fed G her BBQ chicken, vegetables, and dessert. She drank her juice and tea. She asked to "go lay down." I told her it wasn't time to lay down. She said "Will you help me?" several times.

At 6 pm we left the dining room and parked ourselves in the common area. The residents were antsy, the staff shorthanded. G was wide awake. M, who is blind, stood up in an attempt to leave. I went to take her hand and ask her where she was going. "I want to go back to my room and I want to go see Jesus," she replied. She sat back down and I returned to my seat. Several other residents attempted to get up. All of them are fall hazards. I relocated G and myself to the far end of the living room so I could sit by M and hold her hand. Soon S attempted to get up. Then Sandy Man scootched himself forward. D stood up next, and B made an attempt to wiggle out of her chair as well. I was the extra pair of eyes but all I could do was bring attention to the situation. Soon M was taken off to her room and readied for bed. Sandy Man and B were pulled back in their seats, and I sat between G and N, who was looking rather forlorn.

Eventually it was time to go home. I notified the nurse of my departure, was thanked for being there and told to please come back. I am welcome any time. Earlier in the day I'd had an aide I do not know tell me how she loved my smile. Little bits of encouragement in a job I both love and hate. Love the people, hate that I'm totally hands off aside from feeding.

The fuschias belong to my sister Rachel. Beautiful, aren't they?

Monday, August 08, 2016

Feeling Adventurous

It's been two years since my sister Rachel and rented a couple of kayaks and struck out into the marshland at the south end of Irondequoit Bay, so we met up again this morning and took a little ride down the creek. Or up the creek maybe... I am a little terrified of the murky looking water, but not so frightened that my desire to venture out into the swamp is quelled.

I'm sure it is likely not wise to take one's camera into an unsteady water vessel, but we took ours anyway. I promised myself not to "go in the drink" and, thankfully, delivered on my promise. I also collected a few nice pictures.

It was a gorgeous morning, perfect for catching reflections.

And, hey. What's an adventure without a selfie or two?

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Lost in the Woods

It was too nice an afternoon to stay home and watch television, so off we went in search of an adventure. We found it at the south end of Irondequoit Bay when we went for a walk on the trails of Lucien Morin Park.

We tried to follow the White Trail but it gets a little crazy in there and doesn't take a well established route. We got "lost" but not hopelessly lost.

We stopped at the water's edge where Irondequoit Creek meanders through the swamp. I thought of my dad and his boyhood adventures by boat and then his days of hunting in the Ellison Park wilderness. The Cabinet Maker, unaware of my thoughts, watched a guy fishing while seated atop what looked like a surfboard. I asked him to stand on one foot so I could take his picture, but he declined my request.

I carried my camera as we walked, slowed down to take a photo here and there, and then resumed my chase of the Cabinet Maker as he made his way through the woods. I was reminded of Hansel and Gretel and suddenly wished I had a bag full of shiny white pebbles to drop along the trail should the man chance to abandon me altogether. Then I remembered the cell phone in my pocket. I was fairly certain a rescue team could find my location should the occasion arise.

And here I shall leave you to enjoy the photos I collected along the way. Just imagine me huffing and puffing up the hills all the while wondering where we were and which direction would take us back to civilization.